By Deb Silverthorn
Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas’ 11th annual Diaper Shower is taking place throughout October, with organizers hoping to meet community demand for diapers, wipes and adult incontinence products.
Over the past decade, the diaper drive has collected more than 1,185,000 products, and the need is greater than ever, the organizers said.
“This is my favorite time of year and every year the support is stronger and our receipts bigger than ever,” said Julie Liberman who co-chairs the JFS Diaper Shower with Cathy Glick and Beverly Rossel, and currently serves as the chair of the JFS Board of Directors.
Liberman, Glick and Rossel met in 2010 while volunteering for a JFS fundraising event known as “For the Love of Family,” and once it was over, they created the Diaper Shower to continue their joint efforts.
“We fell in love with working together and all these years later we are still dedicated to each other, to JFS and to helping however we are needed. In 2011, by word-of-mouth and without online shopping, more than 19,000 diapers and 16,000 wipes were collected and every year we’ve grown,” said Liberman. “My parents wished to honor my service to JFS and this year we created ‘Julie’s Diaper Fund.’ This fund allows JFS to receive donations earmarked for the project year-round and it absolutely makes all the difference in the world for so many.” In addition to donated materials, an additional 500,000-plus diapers were purchased last year using donations from the fund.
Disposable diapers can cost nearly $1,000 a year to cover the average of more than 4,000 diapers needed for just the first year of a baby’s life, with a reported one in three mothers in need of support. According to the population supported by JFS’ Food Pantry, locally that need is higher.
“About 60% of our clients to the Food Pantry receive these products and, if we doubled or tripled our inventory, we’d still not have what they need,” said JFS Food Pantry and Community Outreach Manager Maya Cohen. She noted that storage issues will hopefully be alleviated with the Food Pantry’s 3,000-square-foot expansion, expected to open before the end of the year. “Some people come to us just for these items because we are one of the only food pantries in the area that includes these items.”
Diapers and wipes cannot be purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance. The project organizers have had many stories of parents having to use one diaper for many soilings or having to choose between food and diapers.
JFS volunteer Dawn Kaufman spends hours each week opening and sorting deliveries.
“I started volunteering last summer but never realized the numbers en masse of those affected by this need,” said Kaufman, who spends one day each week opening packages, another organizing and another helping distribute through the drive-thru.
While many are quick to donate infant-sized diapers, as babies grow quickly, all sizes are necessary. In the past 10 months alone, 466,000 diapers and 12,000 packages of wipes were handed out through the JFS Food Pantry weekly drive-thru pickup. The requests for cleansing wipes and adult diapers for homeless adults have also increased over the years.
“We can’t possibly recognize all the ways in which our clients are impacted when living paycheck-to-paycheck,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker. “Thank goodness for all of our supporters who make sure those in need do not have to live without.”
For more information or to make financial contributions, visit JFSDallas.org/DiaperOn. Product donations can be delivered to Jewish Family Service, Akiba Yavneh Academy, Congregations Anshai Torah and Shearith Israel, the Goldberg Family ECC at the Aaron Family JCC or at Speech TX. To order from the wish list posted to Amazon, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-DIAPER-SHOWER-ORDER.